Tuesday , January 26 2021

Call to help disadvantaged people quit smoking

While smoking can be seen as the least of their problems, people living without home, mental illness and alcohol and other drug dependence cry for the right support to give up, according to the Australian Public Health Association.

A new study, published in the Australian and New Zealand public health paper this month, showed that the majority of respondents are interested in smoking cessation but are often less successful due to their unique challenges.

Researchers have examined 84 smokers fighting a mixture of homelessness, mental illness and drug dependence in Western Australia, with the majority saying that doctors are the best people to help them quit.

However, few doctors are less inclined to recommend respondents to stop smoking if they think it will be too much weight.

"I'm trying to quit smoking and I'm trying to quit marijuana and I miss my kids and all that, and to quit smoking at the same time, my GP told me not to do it," the male respondent said .

PHAA CEO Terry Svelin, co-author of the study, says quitting smoking should be a higher priority among some doctors and generally among community-based organizations.

"The truth is that while smoking can be seen as a lesser problem these people face, it actually infuses them into their overall poor health and then continues a continuous cycle of disadvantage," he said.

Study co-researcher Prof. Simone Pettigry says research has shown that politicians and governments can effectively target the "quit smoking dollar" in a community where the habit is strengthened.

"This is a useful area … instead of treating these groups as too heavy, we want to show that this is actually a good opportunity."

Prof. Pettigrew said she was surprised by the strong desire to quit among the respondents and their previous attempts to do so.

"They should not be convinced, they just have to be helped," she told AAP.

While public benefit organizations could do more to raise staff qualifications and provide support for staff termination, they need the right funding and resources as they are already working on a "limited budget," said Professor Pettigry .

In addition, general practitioners should receive information that gives them confidence that smoking cessation can be prescribed with concomitant treatment of other conditions.

Quitline has been identified as a known source of help, but many respondents say they need more emotional support than someone they trust as a GP or a health worker.

Respondents also showed less awareness of online resources and did not see them as useful, the survey shows.

The study was conducted by the University of Kurt and the Cancer Council and is funded by the Western Australia government called Healthway.

© AAP 2019

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